NYSPTA’s Willingness to Drink the Common Core Cool Aid Should Prompt NY Parents and Teachers to Consider Reorganizing to a PTO

cool aid

Update 9:30 pm:

Well, this seems to explain it all:

NYSPTA has recieved 2014 advocacy award for their “support of Common Core”.

Looks like they sold our kids out for a plastic trophy!

NYS

http://www.pta.org/advocacy/content.cfm?ItemNumber=3840

 

According to Wikipedia, “Drinking the Kool-Aid” is a metaphor commonly used in the United States that refers to a person or group holding an unquestioned belief, argument, or philosophy without critical examination. It could also refer to knowingly going along with a doomed or dangerous idea because of peer pressure. The phrase typically carries a negative connotation when applied to an individual or group. The phrase derives from the November 1978 Jonestown Massacre where members of the Peoples Temple, who were followers of the Reverend Jim Jones committed suicide by drinking a mixture of a powdered soft drink flavoring agent laced with cyanide. The phrase has been used in a variety of contexts to describe blind, uncritical acceptance or following.

I regret to inform you that NYSPTA is drinking the cool aid….(again).

I am a parent and member of my school districts local PTA unit. I support the PTA wholeheartedly as a parent/teacher advocacy organization. The PTA Unit in my district does great work. I want to contribute to this organization as a whole, really I do. But, I dont know if I can support NYSPTA moving forward.

Something with the NYSPTA is alarmingly amiss and Lana Almajian, NYSPTA Prez is to blame.

Below, please find NYSPTA advocacy report 2014.

Please excuse me at the outset, but their “conclusion” in full support of Common Core blows my mind.

Despite the growing body of evidence that exists showing data and research that undermines any purported integrity behind Common Core, a large body of evidence shows that countries that out perform the United States and show high student achievement do not use CCSS nor do they use higher level thinking pedagogies similar to CCSS,

Despite the fact that no field tests or pilot studies have been done to evaluate the effectiveness of CCSS on student achievement such that CCSS amounts to an unproven, unfounded experiment on our children in contravention of every student’s right to a sound basic education in public school in New York,

Despite the fact that CCSS has the net effect of removing traditional math and replacing classic literature with tedious amounts of increased technical reading and writing that have not been shown to improve student achievement,

Despite the fact that CCSS is a top-down set of standards tied to teacher evaluations and RTT, which connection diverts school districts’ of the autonomy they need to exercise local control, forcing districts to implement a myopic and “one size fits all” curriculum that undermines our district’s highly qualified administrators, teachers, and staff from being able to instill the joy of learning in our students,

Despite the fact that CCSS does not address the needs of the individual learner, English language learners, or students with disabilities,

Despite the fact that, 500 educators and child development professionals have declared grave concerns that CCSS are not developmentally appropriate, are didactic, and that the CCSS does not value practical, individual and experiential problem solving skills,

Despite the fact that CCSS requires students to perform copious and tedious amounts of work under the guise of higher level thinking which impairs student performance, is an obstacle to student engagement, undermines student confidence and impedes the joy of learning,

Despite the fact that, the adoption of the CCSS by legislation occurred without the input of primary stakeholders, including teachers, administrators, parents, and community members, and we strongly believe that transparency in all such decisions is the most critical ingredient to sound decision making policies in public schools,

Despite the fact that education is not the mandate of the Federal Government or any national board,

Despite the fact that CCSS were implemented too quickly, are not perfect standards, and may not reflect the norms of our community in all cases,

Despite significant time, effort and expense is associated with the modification of local curriculum to comply with the CCSS requirements and its implementation to the detriment of students and teachers,

Despite, major investments to equipment and upgrades to  infrastructure are required to comply with the requirements of PARCC that may undermine and/or preclude programs offered to students in school districts

Despite the fact that NYSED/EngageNY modules have been rife with problems and errors thereby deterring parents and educators from using those resources at the outset,

Despite the fact that there is a lack of empirical data to support claims that CCSS increases student achievement and that the objectives advanced in CCSS and its related pedagogies are conclusory due to lack of credible research and evidence,

Despite the fact that it has not been proven that the new standards increase student achievement and that they are “the vehicle to build the skills to make our students and nation internationally competitive”,

Despite the fact that under CCSS there now can be little variance from standards owned and copyrighted by private organizations and private companies serve to profit from CCSS while resources our public schools continue to dry up and dwindle at the expense of students and programs,

Despite the fact that assessments for Common Core haven’t been fully developed and will cost more and require more time for implementation and testing,

Despite the fact that children and homes are our most valuable assets and that poor test scores affect our children, and community by having an impact on property values such that implementing CCSS amounts to gamble by taking a risk at the expense of students, teachers, community members, and district taxpayers.

Despite solid arguments advanced by educators, administrators, teachers, parents and child development professionals across NYS,

Despite all of the above and more, the NYSPTA has issued its FULL support of Common Core?

I think this serves as a great incentive for parents and educators to consider lobbying their local district PTA to perhaps dispense with the NYSPTA association and reorganize to a PTO or similar parent organization.

Personally, I definitely want to support my child and the programs provided by parent organizations are critical to the success and school climate, but find it hard to renew a membership with an organization that takes a position “in FULL support of Common Core” this is completely contrary to the best interests of students and educators.

Im not sure the implications of reorganization are yet, but I plan to look into the possibility of switching from PTA to PTO type thing and perhaps approach my district’s PTA committee about that proposal. Not sure whether or not there is support to do so and will be probably get heat for it, but enough is enough.

NYSPTA has amply demonstrated that they have sold our kids out.

Here is the NYSPTA Report:

NYS PTASurvey ofOpiniononthe CommonCore,
Student Testing&AdvocacyPriorities

©NYS PTA® 3 01/14
Survey Responses: Responses to individual questions follows:

Question 1: Which of the following represents the greatest single challenge to the
quality of your child’s education?
a. Amount of State funding 13%
b. Equity in distributing State funds 7%
c. NYS Property Tax Cap 3%
d. Amount of student testing & related preparation for those tests 46%
e. Use of student test results to evaluate teacher & principal performance 11%
f. Implementation of instruction based on Common Core standards 20%

Question 2: As NYS PTA prepares its 2013‐14 advocacy activities, which of the
following issues should be given the highest priority?
a. State Aid Issues 18%
b. NYS Property Tax Issues 6%
c. Student Testing Issues 76%

Question 3: Which of the following instructional issues should be given the greatest
attention in NYS PTA’s advocacy efforts?
a. Implementation of Common Core‐based instruction 24%
b. Amount of student testing & test related preparation 60%
c. Use of student test results to evaluate educator performance 16%

Question 4: What is your familiarity with NYS’s efforts to implement instruction
based on Common Core standards?
a. Very familiar 71%
b. I’ve heard of it but am not very familiar 25%
c. I know little or nothing about Common Core Standards 4%

Question 5: Which of the following has been your most significant source of
information about the Common Core?
a. Your school district 33%
b. Your kids 2%
c. Friends and neighbors 7%
d. News media 8%
e. NYS PTA publications, website, social media or activities 12%
f. NYS Education Department or EngageNY.org 18%
g. Other (See Comments for specific responses) 20%

Question 6: What steps has your school district taken to familiarize parents and
families with Common Core implementation efforts?
a. Meetings or workshops designed specifically for parents 9%
b. Information posted on district website 8%
c. Print material sent home to families 4%
d. Some combination of the above 44%
e. Not much at all 35%
NYS PTASurvey ofOpiniononthe CommonCore,
Student Testing&AdvocacyPriorities

©NYS PTA® 4 01/14
Question 7: What is your opinion of the relationship between Common Core‐based
instruction and student testing?
a. I support Common Core‐based instruction because of the
student testing involved 4%
b. I support Common Core based instruction in spite of the
student testing involved 30%
c. I oppose Common Core‐based instruction because of the
student testing involved 44%
d. I oppose Common Core‐based instruction for reasons
other than those related to student testing
(See Comments section for specifics) 22%

Question 8: Which statement best describes your view on the amount of testing and
test related preparation your students receive?
a. Too much 88%
b. Too little 4%
c. About right 8%

Question 9: We’ve heard a great deal about student test‐related stress in the past
year. In your opinion is the source of this stress mostly related to?
a. New curriculum or instructional content 31%
b. New tests 37%
c. Use of test results 24%
d. I haven’t seen any change in the level of test related stress 8%

Question 10: If you have a student in grades 1 ‐ 12 who receives additional
educational support as the result of disability, difficulty with the English language or
past test performance, have you found the level of test‐related stress in the past year
to be… (733 people responded to this question or about one third of total responses)
a. Less than in previous years 3%
b. Greater than in previous years 78%
c. About the same as in previous years 19%

Question 11: If you do not have a student in grades 1 ‐ 12 who receives additional
educational support as the result of disability, difficulty with the English language or
past test performance, have you found the level of test‐related stress in the past year
to be: (1550 people responded to this question or about three quarters of total
responses)
a. Less than in previous years 1%
b. Greater than in previous years 75%
c. About the same as in previous years 24%

Question 12: The primary purpose of student testing should be to . . .
a. Improve instruction 29%
b. Assess mastery of material taught 58%
c. Determine eligibility for promotion or need for support services 12%
d. Assess teacher performance 1% NYS PTASurvey ofOpiniononthe CommonCore,
Student Testing&AdvocacyPriorities

©NYS PTA® 5 01/14
Question 13: If it is appropriate to conclude that a mobile society and global
economy require changes in the way we educate our children, who should bear the
primary responsibility for making that change happen?
a. Schools 5%
b. Parents & families 3%
c. Schools & families working together 92%

Question 14: I believe the most productive method of evaluating each educator’s
performance should be:
a. Student performance on state tests 1%
b. Observation of educators educating 50%
c. Student performance on local tests 5%
d. All of the above 44%

III. Summary of Survey Comments

Survey respondents were asked open‐ended questions on three topics, sources of
information, views on Common Core instruction v. testing and finally, general thoughts. We
received a total of 1,650 separate comments. Our analysis summarizes these comments as
follows:

1. Sources of Information: Other than the choices offered to respondents, the most
frequent sources of information on Common Core cited were teachers, internet‐
based research and groups formed specifically to address issues related to the
Common Core and to testing.
2. Common Core Instruction vs Testing: Open‐ended comments to this question
very clearly suggested that respondents are open to educational reform that
includes more rigorous standards with an emphasis on application and critical
thinking. Comments also, however, pointed to student testing as a major source of
frustration. Many comments associated test‐based frustration with Common Core
instruction rather than considering them as separate issues.
3. General Comments: General comments fell into several categories but were
characterized by three central themes:
a. There were many more comments related to this survey than to others we have
conducted.
b. Many comments were lengthy and very emotional.
c. Many more comments were critical and negative as opposed to positive and
supportive.
i. Critical comments were directed at the NYS Commissioner of Education,
Regents and federal government with perceptions (whether accurate or not)
that standards, tests and instruction were often not age or development‐level‐
appropriate and driven by central government and big money, corporate
interests. NYS PTASurvey ofOpiniononthe CommonCore,
Student Testing&AdvocacyPriorities

©NYS PTA® 6 01/14
Typical comments:
“PTA needs to listen to parents, not dismiss them. This “educational reform” is
harming to our kids. And the welfare of children should be the PTA’s number one
priority. Senators, Congressman (sp), Commissioner King and the SED need to
know we are here to stay. This “movement” is growing daily by leaps and bounds.
Thank you.”

“I am basically done with our commissioner of education and government
subjecting my child (who is quite bright and well educated) to stressful
inappropriate testing; where they would never drag their own child to.”

ii. Criticism was also directed at NYS and National PTA either for being too
closely associated with government and big money special interests (whether
accurate or not) or for not taking a sufficiently aggressive stand in opposition
to testing concerns.

Typical comments:
“THE NYS PTA needs to advocate for what is best for our students and teachers.
Not what is best for Commissioner King and Governor Cuomo. The common core
was implemented too quickly, without proper teacher support and development.
Testing our kids on the core is wrong. Tying teacher evaluation to test results is
wrong. High stakes tests are wrong. If my child takes a test, I want to see the
results, not just a number. This is common sense.”

“I do not support National PTA’s support of Common Core. I believe they are
supporting it only because they accepted Gates Foundation $. PTA’s first
allegiance should be what is best for STUDENTS. Students learn best with
programs that are engaging and developmentally appropriate. Please consult
with seasoned educators and study the Engage NY modules, along with the test
prep packets students in 3‐8 are bringing home before the April tests. Do you find
these to be age & developmentally appropriate?”

iii. Supportive comments were most frequently directed at the promise of
Common Core learning and instructional reform rather than the testing, use of
data or high stakes decisions associated with implementation of that reform.

Typical comments:
“I do believe the CC is important, however it should have been implemented
FIRST and given a yr or 2 before tying it to APPR. NYS probably wouldn’t have
gotten so much resistance to CCSS if it was done this way.”

“How about we let teachers get back to actually teaching instead of test
prepping!!!”

“I am thrilled with the higher level the new common core standards are teaching.
I feel my daughter will get a much better education than I expected. I wish the
teachers would embrace it and our district would communicate better about it. NYS PTASurvey ofOpiniononthe CommonCore,
Student Testing&AdvocacyPriorities

©NYS PTA® 7 01/14
Not everyone should go to college, not everyone can be a performer, not everyone
can be a skilled worker. The new common core standards and tougher regents
tests will help students figure that out. Generations before us knew it.”

IV. Conclusions

A critical motivation underlying NYS PTA’s eventual support of the CCLS is the need to
prepare our students to thrive in an increasingly global marketplace. Adoption of these
internationally benchmarked CCLS by 45 states in our nation is one positive step in this
direction.

Our belief in these reforms is further supported through international assessments and
conclusions by researchers regarding what these assessments mean. The Program for
International Student Assessment (PISA) is an international assessment that measures
reading, math and science literacy among 15‐year‐olds. Coordinated by the Organization
for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), it recently assessed 510,000 students
in 65 countries. Results from the 2012 PISA indicate that while U.S. teens performed about
the same as they did in 2009, their international ranking slipped from 25th to 31st place in
math, from 20th to 24th place in science and from 11th place to 21st place in reading.

In her book, The Smartest Kids in the World, noted author Amanda Ripley compares
education in the United States with that in other nations that do well on the PISA. She
concludes that teacher preparation in other nations is much more rigorous than in the U.S.,
particularly in the areas of math and science. Ripley also notes the tendency for students
and parents in those nations to give more serious and concentrated attention to core
academic studies than do their U.S. counterparts.

Moving forward into the twenty‐first century, the lack of growth in U.S. PISA performance
while other nations demonstrate improvement in all three academic areas is troublesome.
This trend does not bode well for our nation to remain in the forefront internationally as
was the case during the last century.

Despite problems encountered in implementing the CCLS in New York State, the New York
State PTA recognizes the need to support higher learning standards that will provide the
necessary elements to prepare students for success in college and/or the workplace.

Survey opinions were often strong and emotional as evidenced by multiple‐choice
responses and supported by hundreds of comments, most of which were negative. Where
negativity was directed to the Common Core, we conclude that concerns were typically
more about unnecessary over‐testing rather than specific concerns related to Common
Core‐based instruction or the need to challenge our students. Comments suggest that
parents want their children to be successful, to think creatively and to be challenged but
they often see the emphasis on testing as an impediment to these goals. Parents also
suggest that they wish to be involved in their children’s education but are often excluded.
NYS PTASurvey ofOpiniononthe CommonCore,
Student Testing&AdvocacyPriorities

©NYS PTA® 8 01/14
In this global economy, it is more important than ever for our schools to graduate students who are ready for the world of work and/or college. They need to be creative and deep thinkers, demonstrate excellent literary skills and be math and science literate no matter which endeavor they chose. This is the path forward in the twenty‐first century; the path that will insure that the United States remains at the fore in innovation and educational excellence. For this reason, despite some issues with implementation, NYS PTA strongly
supports the CCLS.

http://nyspta.org/pdf/Advocacy/Report_CCLS_Survey_Jan_2014.pdf

Speaking of minions……….whaaaaat?

Meanwhile, back in the Fall, the NYSPTA issued talking points to parents demanding that parents request “sensible” measures. In other words, it appears that the NYSPTA was not then nor are they now  interested in hearing what parents and teachers had to say….their mind was already made up back then wasnt it, the survey was just formality based on this ridiculous conclusion.

Assuming arguendo that there is a case to be made for Core (which there isnt, but lets just play along), then shouldnt the NYSPTA at lease parallel the position taken by the NYSUT who issued a resolution against Common Core and vote of no confidence in Commissioner King? https://www.nysut.org/news/2014/january/nysut-board-approves-no-confidence-resolution

Why is the NYSPTA “fully” supporting Core and why is there no mention of King’s lack of accountability in this area? The NYSPTAs position is a slap in the face to educators inasmuchas it is against the interests of parents and students across the State.

http://nyspta.org/pdf/Advocacy/NYSPTA_Voice_CCTalkingPoints.pdf

NYSPTA President Lana Almajian has shown a propensity to have the back of Commissioner King over the vulnerable students that the organization purports to advocate for.

JICYMI, here’s is the Poughkeepsie forum showing Almajian bouncing at the event that sent King packing:

The NYSPTA  stands firmly committed to follow NYSEDs lead in “adopting” and selling the cool aid known as Common Core:

Which begs the question: WHY?

I am providing the folllowing from PTAs website. But I remind, you, no field tests have been done, no pilot studies ….and per several of my recent blog posts prior, there is no empirical evidence to support Common Core. In fact, the objectives of core advanced by proponents are conclusory and NOT supported by the evidence! Read more in prior posts, for ex:

http://wp.me/p44iDJ-pU

http://wp.me/p44iDJ-rE

This is what NYSPTA claims:

Why National PTA Supports the Common Core State Standards

http://nyspta.org/pdf/Advocacy/Advocacy_Talking_Points_on_Gates_Funding_and_CCSS_Support.pdf

And although they claim that they have not recived grants, the Gates foundation website does reveal to the contrary. I can only suspect that there are more incidental reasons why the NYSPTA supports Core beyond Gates, though.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded grants
National Congress of Parents & Teachers (PTA)

Date: May 2013
Purpose: to educate parents and communities on the Common Core Standards and empower leaders to create the changes needed in their school systems
Amount: $499,962

Date: November 2009
Purpose: to support implementation of a strategic plan for national PTAs to promote college-readiness, and higher student performance outcomes
Amount: $2,000,000

http://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quick-Links/Grants-Database/Grants/2013/05/OPP1082255

So, what can you do?

Simple. Lobby the parents and teachers in your  school district to reorganize from a PTA to a PTO. It is a cost effective alternative that will help restore local control to parents giving students the voice they deserve. Boycott NYSPTA. They dont represent us anymore, do they?

PTA

PTO

Definition A local parent group formally affiliated with its state’s PTA organization and the National PTA. An independent parent group; in other words, any non-PTA group. Many acronyms—such as HSA, PCC, PTO, and more—fall under the independent group umbrella. (In this chart, we use “PTO” generically to mean any independent parent group.)
How Many? National PTA reports close to 25,000 units. The number has generally been between 22,000 and 26,000 units for years. Our estimate (PTOs are not required to register, so this count is an educated calculation): approximately 55,000 PTOs in the United States. (The PTO estimate takes the roughly 83,000 K-8 schools in the US, subtracts the roughly 22,500 K-8 PTA units, and subtracts an additional 5,000 for K-8 schools with no parent group.)
Umbrella Organization/ Professional Staff National PTA has dozens of paid employees at its Alexandria, Va., headquarters. Many state PTAs have at least one additional paid staff member. Most national and state PTA revenues come from dues from local units. There is no “national PTO” akin to National PTA and no official umbrella organization for PTOs. PTO Today is a media and services company (30-plus employees) that aims to serve both local PTO and local PTA groups. The vast majority of PTO Today’s income comes from paid advertising, not from PTO or PTA groups.
Dues—Required? Yes. No. The decision to charge dues is completely up to your local group.
Dues—How Much? Because state dues vary and because the number of units vary per state, this number is not exact. But a very conservative estimate says that the average local PTA unit sends more than $700 to its state PTA and to National PTA in dues payments. This number is based on a weighted average of 175 paid PTA members per local PTA unit and an average combined state-plus-national-dues figure of just $4. Units with more members will spend more in state and national dues. Units with fewer members will spend less in state and national dues. It is up to your group, but the entire amount stays at your school. Many PTOs choose to charge no dues as a way to foster parent involvement. They consider all parents members automatically.
Insurance—
Required?
Varies by state. Most often, yes. No; it is up to your group. But we highly recommend that all groups get insurance.
Insurance—
Access
Most state PTAs have a negotiated rate with a preferred provider. PTOs can access preferred rates through the optional PTO Today Plus program or obtain insurance on their own.
Insurance—Cost Varies by state. Typically (but not always) insurance is less expensive for PTAs than for PTOs. But groups must pay PTA dues in order to access the sometimes lower PTA rates. PTO Today Plus insurance rates range from $70 to $165 for different types of coverage, including officer liability, general liability, and property insurance.
Nonprofit Status Required. Status is typically granted automatically as part of a parent group’s affiliation with National PTA and payment of annual dues. Not required. If your group decides to become a registered nonprofit, it applies directly to the IRS and pays a one-time $750 fee. Step-by-step instructions(successfully used by hundreds of groups) are available from PTO Today.
Total Cost of Affiliation The biggest factor is how many paid members you will have. Our estimate is that the average PTA unit spends more than $700 per year on state plus national PTA dues, and most PTA units add an additional $100 to $300 for insurance. You can get exact costs for your state from your state PTA. Typically, smaller units pay less to affiliate with the PTA and larger units pay more. Can be zero, if the group doesn’t apply for tax-exempt status and doesn’t get insurance. Tax-exempt status is a one-time (not annual) fee of $750. Insurance can be secured individually (often $500+ per year) or as part of PTO Today Plus program, which provides several benefits as well as discounted insurance for roughly $300 per year.
Advocacy Required. National PTA is openly an advocacy organization for PTA-approved positions. Local PTA groups cannot advocate publicly against PTA-approved positions. PTA dues support state and national PTA advocacy efforts. Not required. Groups can choose to play an advocacy/political role; however, many PTOs opt to remain focused on parent involvement, school/teacher/student support, and community-building at their local school.
National Voice Yes. This is a key difference. Your group is part of state and national political and advocacy efforts. And your group can play a role in determining National PTA positions. No. Most PTOs choose to devote their energies toward work focused on a single school or perhaps a single town. Many PTOs don’t feel that politics are what they’re about or don’t like the potential acrimony that politics can bring (or both).

Want the National PTA’s views on these same issues? Check out their “differences” page here.

http://www.ptotoday.com/pto-vs-pta-differences-at-a-glance

NYSPTA has made it clear that they are not speaking for parents and teachers.

Lace to the Top is calling for a boycott which HVPACC and I support. Read more here:

http://lacetothetop.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/lace-to-the-top-for-calls-a-boycott-of-the-nys-pta/

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2 thoughts on “NYSPTA’s Willingness to Drink the Common Core Cool Aid Should Prompt NY Parents and Teachers to Consider Reorganizing to a PTO

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